Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODWINES -

think he was bet­ter than peo­ple gave him credit for last sea­son.

When a team is strug­gling, like United have at times this sea­son, a player who has Ber­ba­tov’s lan­guid style is al­ways go­ing to be one of the first in line for crit­i­cism. I sym­pa­thise be­cause when I strug­gled peo­ple used to look at my style and al­most sug­gest I was not in­ter­ested. That was not the case at all.

One thing is cer­tain. If a side is strug­gling, then a player with Ber­ba­tov’s style will al­ways get more flak that one who plays with the all-action ef­fort of Tevez.

Tevez’s con­tri­bu­tion has put City in the top four and will give them gen­uine hopes of Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball next sea­son.

And, just lurk­ing in the back of their minds, will be the fact that none of Chelsea, Manch­ester United and Arse­nal has made a cast-iron case to be Premier League cham­pi­ons this sea­son.

All logic and past form tells us the cham­pi­ons will come from one of those three, but I don’t say that with to­tal con­fi­dence be­cause ev­ery time some­one is pre­sented with a chance to make a state­ment, they slip up.

As I said on the BBC’s Match Of The Day last week, it is a trib­ute to Fer­gu­son and what United have in­side the camp that they are still ti­tle con­tenders be­cause they have not played well.

Chelsea and Arse­nal have had spells when they have been truly out­stand­ing, but you can­not re­ally say the same about United. In­deed, by their own stan­dards, United have been poor.

In any other sea­son, their ti­tle as­pi­ra­tions would be dead and buried, but the un­pre­dictable na­ture of this cam­paign means they are very much alive. It is al­most like no­body wants to win the ti­tle.

I am not say­ing City will be cham­pi­ons, but this has been an amaz­ing sea­son and there is in­trigue all over the place. And City have that huge trans­fer bud­get to utilise – some­thing they will be even more will­ing to do if they think great prizes could be the re­ward.

They will cer­tainly re­gard a place in the top four as a re­al­is­tic pos­si­bil­ity.

Spurs and As­ton Villa have both been re­garded as favourites for fourth place and then had a slip. Liver­pool are also a very large part of this par­tic­u­lar equa­tion.

If they win their game in hand, City are only three points be­hind Manch­ester United, so you can see why they will have high hopes for the rest of the sea­son.

And the per­for­mances of the man they took from Old Traf­ford will do noth­ing to lessen the sense of op­ti­mism around East­lands. BEN­JANI has vowed to cap­i­talise on his re­turn to favour at Manch­ester City by earn­ing a new con­tract at East­lands.

The Zim­bab­wean for­ward, frozen out by for­mer man­ager Mark Hughes, has started the club’s last two games un­der new man­ager Roberto Mancini.

Hav­ing scored the win­ner in the FA Cup third round victory at Mid­dles­brough on Jan­uary 2, the for­mer Portsmouth for­ward also played a key role in the 4-1 win against Black­burn on Mon­day by cre­at­ing Manch­ester City’s open­ing three goals.

In­juries have af­fected Ben­jani’s prospects dur­ing his two years at East­lands and both Hull and Notts County were keen to sign him dur­ing the Au­gust trans­fer win­dow.

But hav­ing re­turned to favour un­der Mancini, the for­mer Jomo Cos­mos striker whose full name is Ben­jamin Mwaruwari, ad­mits he is now ready to bat­tle it out to se­cure an ex­tended stay at the club.

He said: “I’m very happy be­cause I’ve started two games in a row and it’s been a long time since that hap­pened.

“As a player you have to keep on be­liev­ing, even if you know the chances of play­ing reg­u­larly are slim.

“You have to be very pro­fes­sional, do ev­ery­thing right and work very hard and now I’m glad I’m get­ting my chance.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to see out my ca­reer at City. I have six months left on my cur­rent deal and it would be nice if I could get an­other year or so.

“The only thing that is im­por­tant to me is to fight hard for the right to play and I love the role I’ve had in re­cent weeks. I think it suits my game be­cause I love a phys­i­cal bat­tle but the good thing is that when one player goes out, an­other comes in and does just as well – those are the in­gre­di­ents of a very good team.”

City climbed into the top four by cruis­ing to victory against Black­burn and Ben­jani in­sists that Mancini’s team can stay in the Cham­pi­ons League reck­on­ing.

He said: “We need to take each game as it comes but we feel we can beat any­one at the mo­ment.

“We have reached the top four and now we want to stay there. And while we have such com­pe­ti­tion for places and such be­lief and determination in the team then there is no rea­son why we can­not do that.” – The Tele­graph

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